‘Avengers: Infinity War’: 6 Ways It Lives Up to the Hype (And 1 Way It Falls Short)

Avengers: Infinity War, one of the most anticipated films in recent memory, has finally arrived, and hardcore fans couldn’t possibly have higher expectations. So does the movie actually live up to the ridiculous amount of hype?

For the most part, it sure does. Infinity War is exactly what Marvel addicts have always wanted it to be. As a live-action version of a classic comic book event storyline, it is a rousing success full of thrilling action sequences, jaw-dropping surprises, and emotional resonance. The movie is not without its flaws, though, including one element that is definitely problematic.

Here’s a spoiler-free look at all of the ways that Infinity War totally lives up to the hype, plus one way that it falls a bit short (page 7).

It is truly the culmination of everything that came before

Infinity War

The movie ties the past films together. | Marvel

If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is kind of like a long-running TV show, Infinity War is a thoroughly satisfying season finale. For better or for worse, it’s much more than just a singular movie experience; it’s the culmination of the entire 18-movie journey thus far, and as such, every scene carries a tremendous amount of weight.

Because it’s the climax of the past 10 years of storytelling, the film is also appropriately packed to the brim with callbacks and payoffs that will reward devotees. In some cases, these just take the form of throwaway lines here and there. But mostly, this adds up to what feels like a two-and-a-half hour thank you to those who have been waiting in line for every one of these movies since Iron Man.

Theoretically, if you are only casually familiar with the MCU, you can still watch and enjoy this film; the characters recap most of what you need to know. But if you’re a hardcore fan, the experience is going to be so much richer, as the Russo Brothers are often catering directly to you.

Next: Just how dark does the movie get? You may be surprised. 

The stakes are real, and it gets surprisingly dark

Tony Stark having a moment of grief.

You’ll be shedding a tear or two. | Marvel

One of the most widespread complaints about the MCU for quite some time has been that there are no real stakes. With Infinity War, everyone was hoping things would be different. Viewers will definitely not be underwhelmed in that respect; the stakes in this movie couldn’t be more real.

The Russo Brothers come in with guns blazing from the opening scene, establishing that this is not just a one-liner-filled, inconsequential summer blockbuster. From there, we watch the movie with a feeling of constant anxiety and dread; this is like the MCU equivalent of a Game of Thrones season’s ninth episode.

Next: How does humor come into play, though?

For the most part, it mixes in humor effectively

Star-Lord, Iron Man, and Drax in 'Avengers: Infinity War'.

There will also be a few laughs. | Marvel Entertainment via YouTube

Although a dark turn for Infinity War was welcome, the movie should still be an enjoyable ride; we wouldn’t want it to shift too far in the direction of being relentlessly bleak. Fortunately, despite the high stakes, Infinity War is still a lot of fun.

It’s definitely more serious than the previous two Avengers movies, but there’s plenty of room for amusing interplay between the characters and Joss Whedon-style quippy dialogue that gets big laughs. There’s more humor here than something like Black Panther, but less humor than something like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Some will almost certainly complain that the movie is too comedic. And there are indeed one or two scenes where something that should be fairly serious is somewhat undercut by a joke. But overall, the Russo Brothers nail the balance of tones.

Next: How the movie fares when it comes to juggling all the characters.

Just about every character gets something to do

Chris Pratt in 'Avengers: The Infinity Wars'

All the characters have strong roles. | Marvel

Going into Infinity War, everyone was wondering how the Russo Brothers could possibly balance the stories of dozens of characters in a way that isn’t a complete mess. Surely, many of them would have basically nothing to do. But with a few exceptions, that’s not really the case.

Sure, the movie does focus on some characters more than others. But if you have a favorite Avenger, you’re in for at least one moment in which you pump your fist or laugh as that hero gets their time to shine — whether it’s with a key action beat or just a funny piece of dialogue. This includes many of the side characters, such as favorites from Black Panther.

The fact that the Russo Brothers were able to balance this many characters while not unforgivably shortchanging the vast majority of them is simply remarkable.

Next: The movie is going to shock you.

There are some major surprises

Despite some clues you might have figured out by now, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised | Marvel Studios

Marvel has never been as vigilant about preventing spoilers from getting out there as they have been with Infinity War. This made fans speculate wildly about what the twists were going to be. But some worried they might be setting themselves up for disappointment by expecting too much. Maybe it won’t actually be as shocking as they hope.

After seeing the movie, though, it’s clear why Marvel really wants everyone to avoid spoilers. There are some gigantic surprises in store here. Unfortunately, the marketing definitely did reveal a bit more of the film than it needed to. So you may come out feeling bummed that you knew as much as you did just from seeing the trailer.

Needless to say, though, all of the most noteworthy twists have been kept a secret. And no Marvel movie benefits more from going in fresh than this one.

Next: Does Thanos live up to expectations?

Thanos is a great villain, although his henchmen aren’t super memorable

Thanos standing tall in 'Avengers: Infinity War'.

Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War | Marvel Studios

In addition to the lack of stakes, critics of the MCU have always complained about the villains being pretty forgettable. With Infinity War, we have Thanos, who has been built up as the ultimate bad guy for six years. So was he worth the wait?

One would hope that Thanos would be indisputably the best MCU villain ever just because of all of the anticipation, and that’s not quite the case. He’s not even the best MCU villain of 2018; Killmonger is superior overall. But Thanos is definitely a great antagonist for the film, and he does feel suitably threatening.

He won’t necessarily go down in the annals of film history, but he’s certainly not a disappointment, either. Plus, the film provides a surprisingly interesting backstory that makes him much more of a complex character than we would have expected when he was first introduced in The Avengers.

Unfortunately, Thanos’ henchmen, the Black Order, are not super memorable. Unless you read the comics, you’ll come out of the movie struggling to recall any of their names; you may even confuse some of them with others while thinking back on certain plot beats. They aren’t bad, but they should have been great.

Next: This is the one area of the movie that falls a bit short.

Because there are so many storylines, the pacing is a bit off

Spider-Man gliding through in his suit.

You’ll need to be very focused on the plots. | Marvel

Infinity War has an absolutely absurd number of storylines, which was always likely to create some issues. The way the Russo Brothers have structured things, especially towards the beginning, several different groups of characters have their own quests, all of which unfold far away from one another.

The result is that the movie is constantly jumping back and forth between all of these somewhat disconnected storylines, and significant characters will just completely disappear for major lengths of time. Like an anthology film, some of these plots are inevitably more interesting and seem far more important than others.

So especially during a first viewing, you will likely find yourself wanting to get back to your favorite storyline but having to wait quite a long time to return to it, making part of the experience feel a bit tedious. Until things start to come together more cohesively in the last act, it does sometimes feel like we’re watching multiple different movies at once.

However, this is a relatively minor gripe with a film that in most respects successfully accomplishes everything it sets out to do and leaves us more excited than ever for the future of this series.

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